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Oct 11, 2021 2021-10 Faculty Finance

Alumnus Vitek coming back to help move Gies ahead

Every good story has a second act, and for Mike Vitek, that second act starts where the first one began. In 1989, he graduated from Gies College of Business with a BS in Finance, charting a successful career with stops at two Fortune 500 companies, one Big Five accounting firm, and a nimble private equity firm where’s he’s excelled for more than a decade. And now he’s back to share his experience with a new generation preparing to take that first big leap.

Vitek began his career as a senior analyst at Arthur Andersen & Company in Chicago, before moving to State Farm in Bloomington, Illinois, where he helped manage $40 billion in company assets. From there, he spent a few years working as a portfolio manager with Allstate in Northbrook, Illinois, before returning to Chicago. He’s been there ever since, managing small-cap value and SMID value funds for a diversified financial services firm called Mesirow Financial, where he’s generated approximately $100 million for the firm’s clients.

It’s been a good life. But for the past few years, he and his wife, Christy, who earned an education degree at Illinois in 1992, have been thinking about doing something different and leaving Chicago for a nice university town. During that same time, he was also enjoying the occasional golf game with Clinical Assistant Professor of Finance Rob Metzger, who sold him on many exciting opportunities available at Gies.

“For the last five years, Gies has been hiring people like myself who are kind of at the end of career and want to do something different,” said Vitek. The move has been a win/win for the College, enhancing the school’s faculty, while giving students the valuable insights they can’t get from a textbook. Vitek knows several others who made that move and enjoyed it. So, he decided to follow their lead.

In his first year at Gies, Vitek will be teaching FIN 464/564 — Applied Financial Analysis, which he’s taking over from Clinical Assistant Professor of Finance Denise Maple. He’s excited to build on the excellent work she started, while giving things his own unique twist.

“I’m going to teach a combination of valuation — how to value businesses, combined with financial statement analysis,” explained Vitek. That means not only teaching theory, but also exploring how that theory plays out in the real world, using examples pulled from the headlines to take students beyond textbook examples.

“I’m hoping to find a merger deal sometime in the first quarter that makes a big splash in the paper. Then, toward the end of the semester, we can analyze that,” said Vitek. By exploring the rationale, financial objectives and forecasts, students can then value the company after the deal and see if it’s accretive to value.

In the process, he hopes to bring some added value to the degree that helped shape his career more than 30 years ago. “I’m excited about what Rob and some of these other people like myself are really trying to add to the curriculum,” said Vitek. “I’d love to be a part of that and hopefully advance the ball for the next 10 years.”